Wolves' spirit lifts McCarthy as Zubar strikes

Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Norwich City 2

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The Independent Online

The home fires are still smouldering at Molineux, if not exactly burning brightly. Beaten 10 times in 13 matches prior to Norwich's visit, Wolves stared another calamity in the face before they found an unlikely hero in Guadeloupe-born right-back Ronald Zubar with eight minutes remaining.

Ninth-placed Norwich, whose progressive passing game merited the early lead provided by former Wolves midfielder Andrew Surman, had shrugged off Sylvan Ebanks-Blake's equaliser late in the first half to reclaim the advantage with Simeon Jackson's first touch of the match. But from a corner by Nenad Milijas, Zubar rose to head only his third goal in three seasons in the Black Country.

The home side thought they had snatched victory when Steven Fletcher turned in Matt Jarvis' cross in time added on, only for a linesman's flag to stop Mick McCarthy's celebration. "I've seen the replay and it was offside," the Wolves manager said. "Borderline but offside. It would be nice to get one of those decisions but that would have been unfair on Paul [Lambert] and his team. To come from behind twice was great, but we've just had two home games and got one point, so of course it's a concern."

Lambert admitted his heart was in his mouth when Fletcher materialised at the far post. "We got away with that one," the Norwich manager said, "though we could have had a penalty for handball in the first half." On Saturday, Everton equalised at an identical stage, but the Scot preferred to accentuate the positives. "I have to give the lads unbelievable credit. That's two really tough away matches in a few days and we've got a point from both. I can't criticise them."

The pressure that has built on McCarthy during Wolves' wretched sequence manifested itself in the dropping of £6.5m striker Kevin Doyle for the first time since he arrived from Reading. Ebanks-Blake took his place but initially struggled to get involved as Norwich, patiently retaining possession, dominated the opening half-hour.

Surman rewarded their superiority with a beautifully crafted goal he not only scored but also initiated. His pass down the left picked out Wes Hoolahan, and when the cross whipped in, Surman met it with a sharp, downward header that tore past Wayne Hennessey.

A similar effort by Surman forced a sprawling save from Hennessey, while Steve Morison sent a free header into the arms of his Wales team-mate. However, Norwich have not kept a clean sheet since winning promotion, and they failed to heed the warning signs that flashed when Stephen Hunt volleyed wastefully over.

Late in the first half, Stephen Ward's cross resulted in Hunt again shooting from close range. The ball looped up off Russell Martin, and when it landed, Ebanks-Blake scuffed home his first League goal this season. Norwich continued to weave dangerous patterns though and Surman persisted in his one-man duel with Hennessey. The keeper was equal to his 25-yard drive, and also to a Hoolahan shot.

The respite was short-lived. No sooner had Jackson come on than Morison swept past Roger Johnson before passing the ball across goal for the substitute to nudge it over the line. Yet Zubar's riposte showed that whatever Wolves lack in quality, there is no shortage of the resilience they will need to secure a fourth Premier League season.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Hennessey; Zubar, R Johnson, Berra, Ward; Hunt (Hammill 75) , Henry, Milijas, Jarvis; Ebanks-Blake, Fletcher. Substitutes not used De Vries, Elokobi, Stearman, Doyle, Guedioura, Forde.

Norwich City (4-4-2): Ruddy; Naughton, Martin, Whitbread, Tierney; Crofts, Fox (Johnson 75), Hoolahan (Bennett 75), Surman; Holt (Jackson, 75), Morison. Substitutes not used Rudd, Pilkington, Barnett, Wilbraham.

Referee C Foy (Merseyside).

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